Is the gaming industry in crisis? I’ll let you decide. Sales are plummeting, a different gaming studio seems to close each week and console titles now face the threat posed by cheaper app games on tablet devices.
How would you prefer to pay for games?
Crisis or not, the gaming industry is certainly at a crossroads. Given the choice of paying £40 upfront for a boxed game that never updates, or for a £3.99 downloadable game with multiple extras, the paying public are increasingly choosing to part with their money in smaller chunks.
You can download Angry Birds and be merrily gaming on your smartphone in a matter of minutes. New levels are regularly released, along with seasonal updates to keep the game fresh. It all starts from less than a quid.
The trend has led EA Sports vice president Andrew Wilson to suggest online subscriptions could be the future of gaming. Instead of buying just one boxed game, people could pay a monthly or annual subscription to get access to everything one studio produces, he said.
Wilson says the subscription model would be similar to how consumers pay for films and television. But will it work for gamers?
The idea is not without precedent. Gamers pay a subscription to play World of Warcraft, while Call of Duty fans can lay out a little bit more to join the ‘Elite’ and access new maps and in-depth statistics.
Hardcore gamers may be willing to keep shelling out for their favourite games, providing they still want to keep playing it.
But casual gamers may find it difficult to commit to a monthly subscription for a game they only play every now and then. Although £40 may be seen as a steep figure by some, at least people can have confidence it will be the last time they open their wallet for the game.
Outside the box
Game studios will have to tread carefully if they are to avoid alienating one section of the gaming public in their efforts to appeal to another.
Perhaps game studios will have to think outside the box to keep people interested. Introducing cross-platform games could be one way to offer a new experience to the gaming public.
A game could make the most of graphic-heavy, high octane moments on the console and play out the more thoughtful, tactical elements on a smartphone or tablet device.
If you really can’t put a game down, then you can always complete side missions while you’re on the bus to work.
Creativity has always been the heartbeat of the gaming industry, coming up with fresh new ideas for titles and pushing the boundaries on what is possible on a platform.
Now the creative types at gaming studios have to find a way to move the industry forward and stay financially sound. It could be the biggest challenge yet.
Would you be happy to sign up for a monthly subscription to a gaming studio? Comment below or tweet @DixonsinTheKnow
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